Marcia Strykowski

Through Monet’s Eyes

800px-Claude_Monet_1899_NadarAs promised in my recent Seine River Cruise post, here is a post devoted to Monet and his beautifully preserved estate in Giverny where he lived for 43 years.

Claude Monet (Nov. 14, 1840 – Dec. 5, 1926) was the founder of French Impressionist painting.

He was also the first to paint a scene over and over in order to capture the changing of light and passing of the seasons, saying “I know that to paint the sea really well, you need to look at it every hour of every day in the same place so that you can understand its way in that particular spot and that is why I am working on the same motifs over and over again, four or six times even.

Here is a remarkable picture from 1922 of Monet in his beautifully landscaped garden, the same garden I recently strolled through. The grounds are kept up to remain in appearance as they were during his time.
Monet_in_Garden,_New_York_Times,_1922Below is how he painted the above view, saying “It took me time to understand my water lilies. I had planted them for the pleasure of it; I grew them without ever thinking of painting them.
monet frame 1His house is just as beautiful inside as out, with big bright rooms and many paintings, including his Japanese engravings.reload-casa_de_monet_giverny_changed-copyreload-dsc00205-copy-copyreload-dsc00209-copy-copyBack to the gardens—so lush and gorgeous. Monet once said: “My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece.reload-day-9-copy-copyPlenty of inspiration there for him to paint.
monet frame 3I was also fortunate to see Monet’s famous water lilies filling the walls of the Musee de l’Orangerie  in Paris. In 1899 Monet began painting the lilies, first in vertical views with a Japanese bridge as a central feature (as shown at the beginning of this post), and later in a series of large-scale paintings that was to occupy him continuously for the next 20 years of his life. He once said, “These landscapes of water and reflection have become an obsession.” This final series depicts his pond in a set of mural-sized canvases where abstract renderings of plant and water emerge from broad strokes of color and intricately built-up textures. Shortly after he died, the French government installed this last water-lily series in specially constructed galleries at the Orangerie.reload-day-12-orangerie-copy

As I traveled, it seemed Monet was everywhere. He painted all the beauty of France including the same cliffs of Entretat that I shared a picture of (the one with the jaunty seagull) in my previous post.
monet frame 2

One last quotation from this brilliant man: “When you go out to paint, try to forget what objects you have before you, a tree, a house, a field or whatever… merely think here is a little square of blue, here an oblong of pink, here a streak of yellow, and paint it just as it looks to you, the exact color and shape, until it gives you your own naive impression of the scene before you.

30 Comments

  1. Louise

    Thank you for the beautiful article and pictures of Monet!

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  2. Michele Sova

    I’ve always loved the impressionists…I have a print of the water lilies in my entranceway.

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful experience at Giverny!

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    • So many beautiful impressionist paintings. Nice to picture the lilies in your entranceway. 🙂

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  3. Seeing a photograph of Monet in his garden got me curious and when I was poking around looking for more photos I came across a film of Monet painting in his garden. The thought that I was actually watching Monet paint in his garden was surreal.

    Here is the link if you would like to see it.
    http://www.openculture.com/2012/07/rare_film_claude_monet_at_work_in_his_famous_garden_at_giverny_1915.html

    Your article is great and the pics are wonderful
    Art

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    • Thanks so much, Art! That film is amazing. It’s fascinating to see great masters we’ve been hearing about for years, actually in action. I remember having that same surreal feeling the first time I watched a clip of Helen Keller.

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  4. Bette Norton

    Claude Monet is my favorite artist! I would love to see Giverny someday! I have many books and prints of Monet’s work in my house. I have never seen the inside of his house. I just love the yellows and blues. Monet’s gardens are amazing! Your photographs and your article make this a very interesting post. I feel like I have been there now! What an opportunity for you to see all of this first hand. An amazing adventure you had! I love the film footage that Art gave you too. 100 years ago and we can see him painting!

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    • Hi Bette, I’m glad you enjoyed the tour! Isn’t it amazing we can all watch him paint online? Years ago there were probably only a few people privy to the film.

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  5. Wonderful post, Marcia. Thank you! That last quote is great advice.

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  6. mirkabreen

    *SPECTACULAR* images. Thank you for taking us along.

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  7. Another lovely post! I felt I took the tour along with you. Thanks, Marcia.

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  8. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing.

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  9. Hi Marcia, I can’t tell you how much enjoyment I got from this post. I loved seeing the photographs of the house and gardens and all the paintings, thank you for sharing them.

    Just before I go, I must tell you your post is now live on my blog. Thank you for taking the time to write it and for allowing me to use it. Barbara.

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    • So glad you enjoyed this post, Barbara, and thank you very much for having me on your special blog!

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  10. Ashley

    Another fantastic article!! I feel like I’ve been to France and got to see Monet in his garden! So pretty!

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  11. Wow, definitely amazing gardens! And I’m having trouble just keeping a fern alive this summer. *sigh* =) Thanks for sharing!

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    • Monet did an amazing job landscaping his gardens–so pretty. Thanks, Leandra!

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  12. We had to study Art Masters during secondary school and I remember Monet was my favourite. I especially like his piece on the train station and love his approach to art ~ taking the time to understand his water lilies. 🙂

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    • Interesting, Claudine. I’ll have to give his train station work another look. He did have a wonderful approach in repeating a painting over and over—SUCH patience. Thanks!

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  13. Vijaya

    Oh, Marcia, Monet is one of my favorites but to actually be in his garden and house! What a dream. And such good advice about observing and painting. It applies to writing too, this objective observation. It’s my favorite technique to get out of a block. And your comment about patience is spot on. Thank you for a lovely post.

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    • Thank you, Vijaya, for your lovely comment. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post.

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  14. Marcia, this is just breathtaking, your pictures as well as the way you bring us along in your enjoyment!

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  15. I have always loved Monet’s work and find most of his pieces very calming. I can lost in the details and color. I have never been to his home and gardens- but now you have added a new place to my list of things to see. It sounds like a lovely visit. Such beautiful gardens! Thanks for sharing these photos and facts with us. 🙂

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    • You’re welcome! I’m glad you’ve added Giverny to your bucket list, it’s well worth seeing.

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